EFI vs. BIOS

Will it be possible to run Windows or Linux on Intel-based Macs? ZDNet has a FAQ summarizing a lot of the discussion out there on the topic. The problem primarily comes down the boot-loader. Current versions of Windows use good old BIOS, while Intel Macs boot from Extended Firmware Interface, or EFI. Until Windows can boot from EFI, it’s not going to be an easy feat. But Windows Vista will include support for EFI, and a version of Windows Media Center already does. And some Linux distributions use Elilo rather than LILO or GRUB, and Elilo already knows how to boot from EFI.

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6 Replies to “EFI vs. BIOS”

  1. I for one believe this will be perhaps the biggest advantage of the intel switch. I think a lot of people who balked at trying a mac because they felt they had too much invested in the windows platform will definitely jump on a machine that can run both. To a lesser extent, it will also be attractive to many linux geeks who have always claimed macs are too expensive. Well, you may still pay a premium to get a mac but now you won’t *also* have to pay more to keep windows or linux (i.e. a separate machine). Yes I know linux already runs on mac hardware but now you have access to the much more easily obtainable x86 linux software. I don’t think the real question is whether or not Apple will allow/care about this but rather if M$ will do something to Vista to prevent this from happening. M$ won in the past because their stuff worked on multiple vendors’ hardware combinations. Apple wins today because of tight control over software AND hardware. Sweet irony. Cheers.

    -Sean

  2. Sean – Another interesting angle is that MS has historically made life very difficult for hardware vendors who wanted to offer dual-boot scenarios. Controlling the bootloader like they have has been an abuse of monopoly power (says me). But up against Apple, they don’t have anyone to strongarm — they can’t threaten to revoke subsidies from Apple if Apple allows a dual-boot bootloader. But you’re right, they could tweak Vista itself to disallow it. Will be interesting to watch.

  3. It’s a historic opportunity for Apple that hasn’t been seen since the introduction of the original Mac. I’m amazed at their seeming nonchalance at the dual boot issue. I’d be working night and day to make sure Intel Macs seamlessly work with Windows.

    An interesting side effect would also be the death of Linux as a desktop OS.

  4. I have to disagree with Sean since Microsoft is not out any money to even prevent a dual boot scenario since you would have to still purchase a license. If anything they would prevent you from installing a cheaper version of MS Vista so you could only install Business or Ultimate I could possibly foresee but that would probably change most of the underlining code and cost more money than it is worth to trying to implement it. The only issue I can see is Apple releasing crappy drivers for windows to keep it market share and claiming yet again that Mac OS X is better than windows unjustly.

  5. Thankfull, this isn’t the case at all. The drivers were still rough sketches in the beginning, but have grown into a very refined Windows experience. By Leopard, macs will run Windows better than many premium machines do, mainly because of the fact that it’s a clean craplet-free install of XP.

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